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Study: Extended length of obesity raises risk of heart disease

July 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The longer you are obese, the greater your heart-disease risk. Doctors say each year a person carries excess weight, their risk rises 2 to 4 percent.

Coronary artery disease leads to heart attacks and strokes. Now a new report tracks the effects of weight gain in youth.

A new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association says excess weight is not good for your heart. Interventional cardiologist Dr. Christina Economides agrees.

"It's the first study that tells us that the longer you're obese the more chance you have of developing coronary artery disease," said Economides.

In the study, researchers followed more than 3,000 young adults for 25 years. People who ended up with overall obesity, meaning a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 and above, and those with abdominal obesity, defined as men having a waistline of 40 or more and women 35 inches or more, had more coronary calcification in their arteries than those of normal weight.

"The more coronary artery calcification you have, the more at risk you are in the future for future events," said Economides.

Researchers say delaying the onset of obesity in early adulthood can reduce your risk of heart disease through middle age, but Economides say even if you do start later in life you can still reduce your risk.

"Do the best you can to lose weight slowly and maintain whatever weight loss you have," said Economides.

Dr. Economides adds that genetics play an incredibly strong role. You can be thin and fit and still have heart disease. But if you've been obese for years, she says, even good genes can't protect you.


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